4 Dangerous Things People Mistakenly Think Will Make Them Happy

Don't rely on these things to make you happy.

Sad woman thinking Алекке Блажин | Pexels / fizkes | Getty Images

Finding happiness can feel like a battle sometimes. So it's not surprising that there are hundreds and thousands of books, magazines, and self-help websites all dedicated to learning how you can finally get your emotional piece of the feel-good pie.

But many times, people look at being happy as a single emotion, or something that can be influenced or brought on by experiences, gifts, or good times with your friends, family, and loved ones. However, this belief — that our happiness is controlled by outside sources — can actually be what's stopping you from learning how to be truly happy. 


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Think about how many times in life you might have felt down and just wished you could be happy. "If I can just get/do/be a specific circumstance, then surely I'll be happy afterward!" And yet, even when you achieve that victory, happiness feels elusive to you. Why? 


There is more to happiness than just "feeling" happy. It's a choice; a decision that you must make and be aware of every day. And it might seem hard at first. Maybe even impossible.

But there is a way for you to achieve this happy state of mind that goes far beyond the transient moment of being happy as a result of outside sources. That's why we asked several YourTango Experts to explain what people think will make them happy vs. what actually will.

Here are 4 things people mistakenly think will make them happy:

1. Determining that a single goal will make everything better

“Many people have a weight loss goal that they think will magically fix what’s wrong with their lives. But what they’re really after are warm relationships, good health, positive self-image, and the approval of others. Letting go of guilt and shame about weight and practicing self-compassion will not only improve each of these things, it is also a necessary ingredient in dropping extra pounds and keeping them off over the long-term.”

Martha McGinnis is an eating coach, trainer & speaker who has maintained a 45+ pound weight loss for over 30 years — without dieting.


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2. Believing that having a relationship will make you feel happy indefinitely

"A relationship with someone else won’t make you happy because there is too much of "them" you have no control over. Remember, all of their past comes along with them so what looks great on the surface also has a 'behind the scenes' you may not see for a long time, and that may not be as happy-making.

What works instead is developing a great relationship with yourself. Ask yourself the same questions you would ask someone else in the first three months. Learn who you are: your dreams, values, passions, and what makes you feel strong. Create and enforce healthy boundaries around what keeps you feeling clear and confident at your core and enjoy the masterpiece in progress that you are."

Kelly Rudolph, the founder of Positive Women Rock, takes women from stuck and stressed to clear and confident. 


3. Letting your emotions control you and determine if you're happy or not.

"While positive thinking can save you from unnecessary suffering, it does not make a person happy.

Emotions are a sense, like seeing, hearing, and tasting. They give you information about yourself and your surroundings. If you’re in danger, you should be afraid. If you’ve lost a loved one, you’re going to have to grieve for as long as it takes.

Accepting that you will have ups and downs actually makes for a happier life."

Cheryl Gerson is a licensed clinical social worker and board-certified diplomate in private practice in New York City. 

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4. Waiting for happiness to come to you, instead of being proactive

"It has been my observation that people often fall into a trap of 'if/then' thinking when it comes to their happiness — 'If I only... got that promotion, made more money, got through the next week/day, got the newest tech gadget for my partner/child/family/friend, then I will be happy.' 

This type of conditional thought process is similar to chasing the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow: The end result appears attainable, but then one realizes through the process that this feat is not possible.

Rather, the more helpful process of happiness begins within the more controlled aspect of ourselves — our thoughts, feelings, and actions — and then extends to the exterior, more uncontrollable sections of our life circumstances."


Dr. Maxine Langdon Starr is a licensed marriage and family therapist in California who specializes in adolescents and young adults who are struggling with body image issues and are ready to take steps toward loving themselves as they are. 

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Merethe Najjar is a professional writer, editor, and award-winning fiction author. Her articles have been featured in The Aviator Magazine, Infinite Press, Yahoo, BRIDES, and more.